Is he turning into his father?
So much tension is created in relationships over the in-laws.
I often get asked to help women with ways of handling tricky mother’s in law or snoopy father’s in law. Family complications like this are not what we signed up for when we chose to spend our lives with our partners.
But what can be even more stressful is the thought that our partner is turning into their problem parent. It is a real turn-off and can affect the amount of attraction and desire we feel for our partner.
The other side to that coin is that we may (god-forbid) be turning into our own parents.
What can we do?
I was recently asked for help from a client on exactly this problem. She wanted to know:
How can we stop feeling afraid that our spouse is turning into their parent?
How can I not let the similar characteristics turn me off?
Psst. I am talking here as if to a heterosexual woman, if this is not you, please change the pro/nouns as this would be relevant no matter the relationship configuration.
Here are my 4 suggestions to address this fear;
See the big picture
It is not actually true that your husband is turning into their parents nor you yours. As we age, we tend to resemble them more due to the very fact that they are older and less youthful.
The truth is that we, as humans, evolve, from generation to generation. Not only that, we have grown up in different cultural climates to our parents. No matter how similar we may seem, we tend to want to do things differently, often rebelling against the upbringing we had.
You see, we grew up with our parents. We are different to them because we saw what being like them was like, mistakes and all and we tend to be internally motivated to evolve beyond them.
Think about it with you and your parents;
Do you want to be just like them?
Do you feel like you resemble them?
You have had different life experiences.
You have been on the receiving ends of different parents with different parenting styles from what they had.
You come from different generations.
You have different genes.
You have lived a different life.
The truth is that neither of you are turning into your parents nor do you have any danger of turning into them. Just because you see a similar gesture, habit or tone of voice, does not necessarily mean that they are turning into their parent, nor are you. You are your parents’ children, some of it is bound to rub off a little bit. That is all.
Challenge the thought
When you feel yourself going down that path – in your mind of “OMG, he is just like his father/ or I am just like my mother” …challenge the thought.
Ask yourself – Is it true?
Is it true that my husband is turning into his father?
The answer is most probably – No
The thing is that you can’t control your partner, his nature or his thoughts. All you can control are your own thoughts and in fact, this is your job. It is what makes you relationship smart.
Be the leader of your own thoughts – control which thoughts you allow and monitor the quality of your thoughts to create the way you feel inside.
So be vigilant for these thoughts and challenge them. Don’t allow them to fester. Bring it back to prayer, journal, boxing gloves and breathing.
- Talk about your worries
If this is bothering you, perhaps it is time you and your partner had a deeper conversation about it.
Have a discussion in which you share your deeper reasons and values for your fear. Sharing the deeper reasons, helps makes sense of what is important to you and helps you get clear about how your partner stands apart from their parent.
Have a discussion about how it concerns you, for example, he may turn into his father and why that troubles you (your values around that) Allow your partner to first tell you the value reasons why they will not turn into their father and then switch it so that they can do the same for your troublesome family member.
While you may still look at your partner and see their father – you will know that the values and deep beliefs beneath the behaviour or feature are not the same.
Having a deeper values discussion can really transform an ongoing argument or point of contention with your partner. While it won’t necessarily change the outcomes, it can allow the dispute to become an opportunity for intimacy and connection.
- Get out of your head
Them turning into your partner is really only a problem in your head. The reason for this is that it is the thought creating the problem.
As it is a thought, you have the power to manage it. You can interrupt the thought as above but the other thing you can do is get into your body and out of your head.
Get into your body by:
- Centring in your energy
- Getting into your heart
If you need help getting into your heart – I have a free meditation for you. This meditation is a beautiful way for you to come back to feeling good in your being.
Do these ideas help take some of the tension out of your in-law fears. After all, we feel in love with our partner and not their parent for a reason.
I would love to hear from you in the comments,
Pic cred @allwecannotsay
Hi, I'm Nicole Mathieson, a relationship and body image coach, couple therapist and author.
My relationships blog helps couples learn practical ways to cultivate a deeper understanding of one another, find safety and connection in relationships, navigate difficult conversations and repair after conflict.